A client recently asked me at a counselling assessment: “what’s the point of counselling?’ and I think that whatever answer I gave wasn’t good enough, as I never saw them again.
As a question, it caught me off guard; a client has not asked me that before. As a client, I have answers, and I suspect that’s where I went wrong; I was trying to reply from my own point of view, without making my answer ABOUT me. The resulting amount of hesitation probably suggested to the client that there was no point, and that’s a shame. So I thought I’d put it out here – my own real answer on why, so that next time I’m asked, I do have some kind of answer.
Counselling (in my opinion), especially in the person-centered world, where we don’t aim to give any advice, or tell you what to do or think or direct you at all, is a space that is just for you. It gives you a non-judgemental person who is skilled (or at least *trained*) in the art of listening (rather than waiting for the pause so they can speak). Counselling gives a place for reflection, and a place to talk things out. Whilst as counsellors we don’t usually give advice we are able to reflect back nuances in things that clients tell us, and clients often don’t even realise they’ve said it (many is the time I’ve echoed part of what a client has said and the ‘I hadn’t thought of it like that’ always surprises me, as I had thought that I am reflecting their thoughts).
So it’s space; it’s a place to be heard; it’s a place of reflection.
It’s also a place to test things out. To look at future options and test them with the counsellor – to look at hypothetical situations: ‘what would my life look like if I tried X action?’ ‘How would it feel if I thought about Y?’
It’s a safe place – a place you can be the best of yourself, and the worst of yourself (unless of course, it involves harm to a minor, or terrorism or money-laundering), and not be judged. Even if it did involve those things, there is still no judgement (so we strive for), but there may be a breaking of boundaries.
It’s yours, and no-one else’s. Above all, it is for you to make what you wish of it.